Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Diary of a Three Day Stair Stepper

We stood silently in front of the yellow flyer that had been crudely taped to the elevator door. The corners had been ripped, evidence of the door’s frequent opening and closing.

“This is going to suck,” my neighbor finally said.

“Uh, yep.” I replied.

The elevator would be down for three days.



As a resident of the seventh floor, this was life altering. Suddenly I found myself creating a list of all the things I couldn’t do over the next three days. This list was compiled much quicker than I anticipated, but consisted of: Laundry. A week’s worth of grocery shopping. Bringing items that required two hands to carry into my apartment.

It was unreasonable to be asked to give up that list of three things for three days.

But since I’ve been regularly attending spin class, naturally I felt the same level of physical confidence going into this week as someone who’s been intensely training for American Ninja Warrior. I could climb seven flights of stairs multiple times a day.

Day 1

Already I’m over the time it takes me to get downstairs.  I don’t go home on my lunch break so I’m saved the midday climb. However, trekking home from the end of a long day at work, I momentarily forget the elevator is down until I see the exasperated face of a dog-owning tenant. “This is harder than I thought,” he says as he passes by me.

I start the climb and pass another resident around the third floor. “Seven, right?” she says. We’ve apparently taken to referring to each other by floor levels, like we’re from respective districts in the Hunger Games.

I solemnly nod my head and she replies grimly, “I feel you girl. Eight.”

Around floor five it hits me I may just die in the stairwell. What’s even more horrifying than death though is someone passing me in this panting, vulnerable state so I soldier onward until I see the seven.  I swing open the door and pray I don’t run into anyone.

When my boyfriend comes over later, I once again find myself close to death on the fifth floor. “Can you just carry me,” he calls from behind me. I laugh, but it comes out as a gush of air from my lungs followed by a cough. Like pioneers clinging to life during the harsh winter, I feel like this challenge will only strengthen our love for one another.

Day 2

I leave for work and find someone resting in the lobby. “Taking a rest,” he says. I nod understandably and walk out into the morning fog. He looks out the window, surely thinking of fonder times when he didn’t have to take a rest in the lobby.  I imagine him writing a Civil War-style letter to the girl he had to leave behind upstairs.  

Dearest Gwendolyn,

I am afraid I have fallen under a terrible spell of lethargy and do not know if I have the strength to carry myself upstairs. I pray that someone stronger than myself will deliver these words to you.

With all my love,


Hard times have fallen upon us. These are dark days.

I go straight from work to school. When I come home (following some added challenges courtesy of my vehicle) I lead my friend to the staircase and he trips immediately as we begin our ascent. I keep going – “Be careful,” I call behind me. I’ve been hardened by my experiences. I’m like that old guy from every adventure movie who’s too calloused to react to others’ naivety. One thing I’ve learned is you just keep going.

Day 3

I find a hairnet between the fifth and fourth floor. I’m so overcome with curiosity that I trip and almost tumble forward down the stairs.  Like, where did it come from? Does someone moonlight as a lunch lady?

The day at work is long but unlike yesterday, I do not forget I have to climb the stairs when I come home. I’m actually already calculating the amount of times this will happen. Once when I first get home, then again after I get home from spin class, one more time after my boyfriend comes over and then shit, I remember we wanted to get takeout, so that’s a total of four trips up and down seven flights of stairs.

I’m mentally preparing myself for this harsh reality when I enter the lobby of my apartment building. And then I hear it – the distinct whooshing of elevator cables moving (I’m actually not sure if the cables are actually making that noise, but in my mind, that’s what is happening.)

There’s a fresh pink piece of paper taped to the door. Elevator is up and running.  I delightfully hit the up arrow and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And eventually give up because it takes too long and just take the damn stairs instead.